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The Water’s Work Song

I wrote the words to this song when I was twenty-three; it came in a burst of writing three other songs as well, just the words, not any music. Over the years as I learned to play the guitar (always badly) I tried various melodies and strategies. I wanted to whistle, but I cannot whistle and that is the truth. Even without a whistle, I do think the version below works.



The Water’s Work Song

My love, I would tarry
a while on your mouth
To lie here beside you
is all that I want
but if I don’t go build
a house in the lane
we will freeze when it snows
and sneeze when it rains

A house you can make
with much thought and sweat
To make a handshake
is much harder yet
And much harder still
is to live till you’re dead
but the hardest is giving
without wanting to get

I took my noon rest
by a mountain stream
and watched how the water
touches all things
as it splashes down
among slippery stones
for frogs to jump in
and skin to shine on

Poured from my mouth
and rolled my eyes
for birds who leave
no trace in the sky
for Sir Rattlesnake
crawling alone
and the winter weary
foaling doe






  1. Beauty-filled world in your song, voice, and guitar strings. I whistled as a kid and never stopped. Even wrote a poem, “To Whistle”. Thanks, Don. – Donna

  2. alicia Ostriker

    Wisdom and beauty in this song–
    culminating in Sir Snake and the foaling doe.
    To live my life until I die is my hope too.
    Alicia O

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